Pubdate: Wed, 13 Apr 2016
Source: Rome News-Tribune (GA)
Copyright: 2016 Rome News-Tribune
Note: From the Los Angeles Times


Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified 
as a Schedule I drug, which means it has no medicinal value and is 
highly addictive.

But the Drug Enforcement Administration is, once again, considering 
moving it to a less restrictive category that better reflects both 
its danger and the undeniable facts on the ground - that nearly half 
the states in the nation allow the use of cannabis for medical 
purposes, and several allow it to be used recreationally. The DEA 
told lawmakers that it intends to make a decision by July.

The Schedule I designation for marijuana has been a ludicrously 
restrictive classification since it was imposed in 1970, lumping 
cannabis in with heroin and LSD. The DEA has twice considered and 
rejected requests to reclassify the drug over the last two decades. 
The last time was in 2011. Frankly, a change is long overdue.

The DEA's reluctance in the past to reclassify the drug has hindered 
research that could shed light on the uses (or dangers) of marijuana 
as a medicine, and could help guide smarter marijuana policies in general.

Because it is a Schedule I drug, researchers interested in studying 
its health effects have faced bureaucratic hurdles and strict 
controls, including limited legal access to the drug. Last year, just 
eight researchers received marijuana for medical study from the one 
government-sanctioned cannabis farm in the country. ...

The lack of research hasn't stopped 23 states from allowing the use 
of the drug for pain relief and other medical purposes. But it has 
denied doctors and patients important information about the risks or benefits.

Nor has the Schedule I classification stopped voters in four states 
from legalizing marijuana for adult use. Yet the DEA still treats 
marijuana as if it's as addictive as heroin and more dangerous than 
cocaine and methamphetamine, which are listed as Schedule II drugs.

It's heartening that the federal government is reconsidering this 
misguided policy. The easiest, most sensible move would be for the 
DEA to reclassify marijuana so that it's treated as a prescription 
drug, complete with Food and Drug Administration oversight.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom